February 16, 2020
I planned to meet M– at Mahaʻulepu this morning, at 8:00. High tide was a few minutes before midnight last night and low tide bottomed out just below 0 feet around 1:30 this afternoon. The moon is disappearing again, passed half, on its way to new. I didn’t even see it today. Venus made the clouds glow while I showered last night in the February winds, which remained strong all day.
There was a wave at Mahaʻulepu, but the wind was strong, sideshore, blowing it down, causing the wave to simply crumble. A few big ones were breaking well outside the rock pile and as we watched from the cliff, we were certain the current matched or bested the winds. M– wasn’t interested in battling that current for a few crumbly hills of water, so we stopped at Keoneloa Bay (Shipwrecks, in front of the Hyatt, though there is no ship wrecked there). I had checked it at sunrise so I knew it was cleaner than Mahaʻulepu, a dubious distinction at best. M– was not much interested in surfing here either.
“I can’t make that wave,” quickly followed by “What wave are you even looking at?”
I talked him in to paddling out by agreeing to head over to the east side of the bay, under the cliff, ostensibly to catch some mellower lefts, but really just to stay away from the pits closer to the rocky point in the middle of the beach. We spent about an hour over there, paddling, talking. I caught a few strange lefts, connecting the step down to the inside section once or twice. M– eventually found one, took it all the way in, and headed home. I think he waved.
I spent the next hour or so in the proper spot, just east of the lava rock bench that juts out, separating the surf break from the tide pools and submerged reef. Here, the sets were big, well overhead, easily three times what we were paddling around in the other corner. The size, and general wildness, kept the crowd down, and friendly. I talked with a young kid and a couple of the older guys, smiled at the old lady on her little beater board. She found a few proper barrels herself, surprising us all.
Over the hour, I was able to paddle into a number of nice rights, one or two allowing me to stall into a barrel, all fast as hell. I found one huge left, a screamer that left me just in front of the lava bench with a set wave headed my way. I made it under the lip and out the back, but barely.
Before heading in, the session was marred by a father/son duo of body boarders, huge local guys, the son maybe approaching 300 pounds. He was screaming on and off at his father, who was clearly nervous. One of the large sets caught them, convincing the father he had made a mistake. Most of us paddled for the horizon, scraping over the top of a huge wave, calling out as we went, “Whoa,” or “Woooo!” with a few “That was yours!” thrown in. This wave was met with smiles and excitement by most of us, but the father/son team used it as fuel for their panic. The next set wave caught them both too far inside, the son ducked well, his great bulk pushing him easily under the crashing wave, but the father simply bailed. He came up clawing the water, searching for air, then yelling that he was scared. His son just screamed back.
“Fuck you! You’re worthless!”
“I scared! I wanna go. I goin die!”
The rejoinder from his son: “Good.” And he paddled away, farther out.
If I’m in the water, or even simply near it, I always have my eyes out, responsible to the ocean for the safety of others. Today was the same. I could tell instantly, before the meltdown, that this man was not ready for the day. After the panic, the wave, the screaming match, he tried to head in. As he made his poor decision to paddle west, towards Poʻipū, to try to get in over the dry reef and ledge, I kept my eyes on him. Another surfer and I floated behind him, close enough to see him and help without being too close to endanger ourselves. He made it in on his own, which made me happy, since that meant I wouldn’t be pulling a huge body and his board across the rocks.
Everyone safe, I found two or three more fun rights, touching the wave faces gently as they curled over me. I headed in as the rain came down, no rainbow.